The Shaking

Seismic terror is about to strike...

Maverick geologist Brian McLean was ridiculed when he warned London and south east England were at imminent risk of suffering a major earthquake. But when the unthinkable happens buildings collapse, power grids crash, transport is gridlocked, and high-tech life grinds to a shuddering halt.

In the stunned aftermath courier Ryan Buckland journeys through a shattered city to be reunited with his family, Deputy Prime Minister Stuart Pullman sees the emergency as his chance to seize power, while nuclear engineer Alan Carter desperately tries to avert a far greater catastrophe. If he fails, destructive aftershocks will be the least of our problems...

A homage to penny dreadful natural disaster potboilers, The Shaking will rock you to your very core!

A 103,000 word novel. Rated PG 16.

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33. Chapter Thirty Three

Sevenoaks. 05.15.

Kevin Norris didn't regard himself as a terrorist or fascist; merely a patriot. His journey to this point began many years ago while he was a promising junior army officer deployed to Afghanistan. He saw at first hand there the futility of the war and the effects it had on his comrades; lions led by donkeys of politicians; heroes stabbed in the back by poor leadership and hamstrung by the effects of cost cutting.

Norris hadn't applied to join the elite special forces, instead staying in the regular army and excelling in their ranks. Promotions came quickly and soon he found himself directing the active combat against the Taliban. He honed his skills against the enemy, learning from and adopting their methods as necessary. His unit became feared by their antagonists and respected by their peers. Norris could never claim his 'patch' had been pacified or was even under control, but the situation there was far better than elsewhere.

Given his success it seemed logical Kevin would rise still further through the ranks, but that proved not to be the case. His unorthodox opinions and occasionally brutal methods of interpreting his orders put too many noses out of joint. The Brass preferred to keep him where he was as a useful tool rather than promoting him. As an escape was sought from the Afghan quagmire Kevin's belligerence in wanting to finish the job he'd been tasked with began to be viewed as a liability in the eyes of those attempting to engineer a face-saving withdrawal with honour.

Another round of defence cut redundancies were the opportunity those in command needed to dispense with Norris' services; like so many other disposable warriors he was given an honourable discharge, dumped into civvy street, and left to fend for himself. There he might have joined many of his comrades in suffering homelessness, poverty, mental illness, or suicidal tendencies, but Kevin's was a gritty, resourceful character. He took the plunge into setting up his own business, and after almost drowning in the depths of debt managed to claw his way back up to the surface, treading water.

There he might have stayed, forever struggling to get by, but during his army days Norris had come to the attention of certain people: If the State didn't want to make use of his particular qualities they would, and so after some detailed background checks were made about him, the Organisation targeted Norris for recruitment.

It started with the placing of some large orders with his business at a time when they were badly needed, along with the promise of more to follow. Then some of his former army mates who were also members of the Organisation rekindled their acquaintance, surreptitiously sounding out Kevin about his politics even though Norris' outspokenness was already well known. Kevin suspected he was being headhunted but was in no mood or position to resist the approaches; his would-be recruiters were knocking on an open door.

Like them Norris was sickened by what this once great country had degenerated into, as well as being angered by the way in which so many ex-serviceman were paid lip-service by politicians while simultaneously being treated with utter contempt by the Department of Work and Pensions. Kevin sought more than mere justice for his comrades; he wanted this country sorted out once and for all so that this kind of abuse would never happen again. The nation needed a strong leader of the calibre of Stuart Pullman; not those pathetic weaklings who governed now. Norris willingly rallied to the banner of those who promised they would make it happen.

The Organisation, being made up almost exclusively of former service personnel, were subtle, experienced, and professional. Stupid, publicly violent, knuckle dragging, overtly right wing racists were a liability to them. Knowing intimately how the intelligence agencies worked, the plotters used their knowledge to run rings around the security services. The group's surreptitious preparations were conducted with great care: Norris' company - along with many other business ventures - were used to make as well as to transfer money for the conspirators, and in the process of doing so Kevin earned a tidy income for himself. He - along with the Organisation - regarded it as a justified recompense for the risks taken on their behalf.

Then came the time when Norris was called upon to use his other skills in addition to providing logistical support. When the order came he welcomed it as a chance to take a more active part in the struggle. It had been a difficult operation to set up so quickly but he'd done his best, and far from condemning the result as a failure his superiors praised him for doing far better than they had hoped. In retrospect Kevin understood the point of his action was not so much to kill the target, but to undermine his authority along with the public perception of law and order holding sway: If even the Prime Minister couldn't consider themself safe in today's Britain, who could?... On both counts the attempt had succeeded far beyond expectations.

Now upon waking with the dawn after a surprisingly good night's sleep on the sofa and switching on his satphone, a message alerted Kevin the Organisation had need of his services again. As he reread the ultra secure message his heart quickened with excitement. Again the lateness of the information gave him less time than he was comfortable with to set up the mission, but things had always been that way in 'Stan and Norris was adept at improvising solutions at short notice. He would manage somehow, as he always did.

Committing the information to memory Kevin deleted the message, logged out of the account, and began to brainstorm various plans. He wanted to be sure if the opportunity fell within his grasp within the next few hours and placed Anthony Rampling's head in the centre of the Shadow Man's cross hairs, this time his aim would be true.

 

West Peckham, Kent. 05.16.

 

Rusty was a shivering bag of nerves; the earthquake had been too much for his doggy mind to cope with. Now he was in a permanent state of utter panic, walking at a breathless pace across country away from the danger he sensed all around him. Constantly hungry, he paused only to rest when he had to. What he couldn't know however, was that in attempting to distance himself from from one hazard he was drawing closer to another jeopardy.

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